BrightSource Energy is planning to build three solar thermal power plants, which will produce 1,200 megawatts (MW) of electricity, enough to power 900,000 homes, at a desert site northeast of Las Vegas.
According to a local news report in Nevada, BrightSource has been in talks with Overton Power District, a public utility, for several months about the possibility of upgrading existing transmission lines that would deliver to the grid increased power generated by the solar facilities
Last week, BrighSource executives brought local officials out to the site and then delivered a presentation on the proposed facilities.
John Woolard, CEO of Bright Source, and Tom Doyle, the company’s Senior VP of Project Development, said they plan to build three 400-megawatt plants on Mormom Mesa, federal lands 65 miles from Las Vegas (see map).
“We have a plan of development we’ll submit to BLM [the Bureau of Land Management, which must approve the plants], Doyle says. "We’re hoping to be operational as early as 2012, pending an outtake agreement (with the local utility).”
Woolard says the plants’ environmental footprint “would be as benign as possible. It will be carbon free with low water usage and will use one-third to one-quarter the land use a wind facility would use. It’s something we’re very focused on.”
Doyle said southern Nevada’s unique situation as a hub of electrical power would enable Bright Source to send solar-generated electricity to other states.
“The first phase is a 400-megawatt project,” Doyle said. “We can sell the power in Nevada. We’ll expand up to 1,200 megawatts and sell to other states. We’re using one state’s indigenous resource – clean power – to bring to other states.”
One hundred megawatts of power is enough to take care of the power needs of 75,000 homes, Woolard said.
Headquartered in Oakland, CA, BrightSource has raised over $160 million from investors such as VantagePoint Venture Partners, JP Morgan, and Google.org. Last spring, the company entered into a series of contracts with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to build up to 900 MW of solar power in California at a cost of $2-3 billion.
Luz II, based in Israel, is a wholly owned subsidiary of BrightSource Energy, Inc. responsible for the company's solar technology development, plant design and engineering. In June, 2008, BrightSource and Luz II dedicated their Solar Energy Development Center in the Negev's Rotem Industrial Park.
It was reported last month that BrightSource is opening an office and looking for partners in Arizona and that the company plans to build solar thermal power plants near Phoenix.
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